Report card choices may add to confusion
The DOE is allowing some leeway in new report cards for elementary schools.
HAVING made much ado about new report cards for public elementary schools, teachers and their union should be appeased by the state Department of Education's decision to give them choices in how they tell parents
about their children's performance in the classroom.
Whatever confusion results as each school selects one of three methods should be ascribed to resistance to change on the part of some teachers, the inattention of their bargaining unit to the shift and in smaller measure to the department's not anticipating their grievances.
Teachers and other education leaders who have accepted the new method and have made constructive suggestions for improvements deserve praise for having their priorities straight.
The updated report cards, which are tied to new standards-based teaching, have been in development for five years with the help and advice of teachers and education specialists. Ten elementary schools tested the program over two years and teachers involved found them workable.
Completing the new cards takes more time, requiring teachers to provide added details about a student's progress and to put more thought into issuing a grade. Grades are no longer designated in traditional A's through F's, but with letters that show if students are exceeding, meeting, nearing or falling behind.
In response to complaints, the department is allowing schools their choice of returning to the old method, using the paper versions or computerized versions of the new cards, some of which were developed at individual schools. Meanwhile, the department will tweak the new cards and issue a standard version that will be required next year.
For parents and students, the multiple methods may be bewildering, particularly if the cards change midway through the school year. Schools should anticipate questions and be prepared to explain.
By next year, teachers, the union and the department should be on the same page.
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